Create space for your inner life. Your inner life is the doorway to your own truth. Your inner life unfolds when you ask yourself questions about your own motivations, the source of your emotions, and why you make the decisions you do, then write your answers after deep introspection.
Journaling is a powerful tool to gain clarity and insight especially during challenging times of loss and uncertainty. Writing can cultivate a deeper connection with yourself and provide an outlet for calm, resilience and mindfulness. When my mom passed on, I found writing to be cathartic. When I read through my journal years later, there were thoughts that I developed into poems, and others just provided a deeper insight into myself. In this series I’m speaking with other leaders who use journaling to become more mindful and resilient.
As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Suteja.
Suteja is co-founder and head instructor at innertreasurehunt.com, a non-denominational, educational website dedicated to self-discovery where people can nourish and integrate all the aspects of who they are. Suteja’s approach is a unique hybrid of ancient traditions’ esoteric wisdom, natural healing, science, and practical application from which she creates programs and events that help people relax, rejuvenate, and ground themselves for the challenges ahead. Suteja (a former monastic) is humble, wise, and kind, and doesn’t believe she is anyone’s guru: she is a teacher and guide who helps people find themselves.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! We really appreciate the courage it takes to publicly share your story of healing. Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your background and your childhood backstory?
Thank you for inviting me to contribute to such important topics as mindfulness and cultivating a deeper connection with yourself, subjects I’ve thought about my entire life. As a young child I kept asking “Where did I come from?” and “Who am I?” I had a mystical experience when I was twelve that sent me on a lifelong quest for finding my own truth. At university I studied psychology, philosophy and theology but even with all that book-learning I still didn’t feel that I was closer to understanding the mysteries of life. I lived in a monastery for ten years which taught me humility, patience, and compassion, traits that contribute to clarity, mindfulness, and resiliency.
After overcoming a devasting health crisis, I moved to San Francisco and focused on channeling what I knew about healing myself into a practice for healing others. Through my work, I discovered practical ways to use esoteric knowledge combined with natural healing methods that resulted in people gaining relief from chronic pain and disabling problems. I now teach what I’ve learned about self-healing so others can take control of their lives and well-being.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about journaling. Have you been writing in your journal for a long time or was there a challenging situation that prompted you to start journal writing? If you feel comfortable sharing the situation with us, it could help other readers.
I moved to America over twenty years ago not speaking English and relied on the kindness of strangers to help me navigate life in the city. It was then that I turned to journaling because I had no one to talk to, or at least no one who understood me. I wrote in French, describing everything I saw, heard, smelled, ate, everyone I met, every amazing or startling or surprising or heartbreaking thing I encountered. Everything was unfamiliar and I was starting a new life with a very uncertain outcome. When you’re on an adventure it’s like living in a story, and this part of my life was like being in an unfolding movie, so it was exciting to be recording it all.
As I learned English, I practiced writing it in my journal. I remember the day I showed an English entry to an American friend, an entry I was proud of having written because it expressed my thoughts so clearly. My friend read the entry then told me in the most polite fashion that the whole thing was gibberish. I knew then that learning my adopted language was going to be harder than I’d first thought. Eventually I switched to writing in English and have never stopped journaling. Because I know how valuable journaling is, every class and meditation at Inner Treasure Hunt includes time for students and members to write.
How did journaling help you heal, mentally, emotionally and spiritually?
At first, I just wanted to keep a record of the succession of events occurring around me in order to maintain my sanity. Life seemed chaotic and things were unfolding at an accelerated pace, so writing every day was how I created order and consistency. Then I began noting dreams, visions, and unsolicited thoughts that lingered because I knew they were doorways to my subconscious. I kept writing regardless of how strange or cryptic the thoughts and ideas were.
The more I recorded my experiences, the more my belief in higher forces guiding my destiny grew. I strengthened my resolve by re-reading earlier entries and soon began to see patterns emerge that I had been oblivious to. Some of these patterns were beneficial but some were detrimental, and by raising them to the surface of my consciousness, I was able to uncover the sources of my destructive patterns and heal them. I am forever thankful for how journaling helped me heal.
Did journaling help you find more self-compassion and gratitude? Can you share a story about that?
Without intending to, my journal has turned out to be a pantheon of gratitude. When I moved to San Francisco in 2000, I wrote a lot about the synchronicities and extraordinary support I received during those challenging but exciting years. Every day I seemed to find the help I needed, which had never happened to me before and continually astounded me. It was a miraculous time and I had so much to be thankful for, all of which I poured into my journal.
Both the writing and the re-reading of these entries filled my heart with gratitude, and continues to open my heart today. Now, when I re-read what I wrote two decades ago, I feel humble and appreciative all over again. I’m so thankful to have this record of the kindness of others which never ceases to touch my heart.
And I know I’m not the only one who has found gratitude and self-compassion in journaling. ITH members report using their journals as a way of staying focused and mindful, of asking questions and listening for answers, and of finding their paths in life. They appreciate that every ITH practice includes time for writing so they can capture what comes up for them during the meditation quickly before it’s lost. They know that messages from the subconscious are ethereal and fleeting, but essential for gaining a deeper connection with yourself. By writing down the thoughts, visions and symbols that arise during meditation, their subconscious becomes substantive and something upon which they can take meaningful action.
What kind of content goes into your journal? For example, do you free-write, write poems, doodle?
These days my journal is filled with lucid dreams, mystical experiences, visions, and synchronicities. I capture what I call ‘downloads’ that come to me in dreams or meditations. These downloads feel important and empowering at a soul level. They are like treasures filled with light that support me along the way. This is why I’m so compelled to record them.
I’ve learned that if I don’t immediately write down dreams, visions, and unsolicited recurring thoughts, they quickly evaporate and disappear. I consider these as either messages from my own subconscious or messages from the collective subconscious. So, to gain insight into my own subconscious, as well as better understand how the universe works, I try to record these messages whenever I receive them. This is the first step in gaining clarity and insight, and in cultivating a deeper connection with myself.
Sometimes in dreams or visions I see shapes and images I can’t explain in words, so instead of writing, I draw them in my journal. I research them and keep digging until I find their meaning, whether in universal symbology or as a personal explanation. Sometimes I’ll envision a complex idea and the only way to capture it is by drawing a “mind map,” a diagram used to visually organize information. Sometimes I’ll envision a symbol of unknown origin that I want to research later, so I’ll draw it.
I also write about things that are incomplete in my life and need more work so I won’t forget about them. For example, I recently had an emotional crisis which I wrote about for weeks. Over time I came to see how the crisis was unfolding while it was unfolding, which doesn’t often happen. As the crisis came to an end (which all crises do eventually), I wrote about the experience in terms of its origin and was able to heal the pattern which had precipitated the crisis in the first place. So both the crisis itself, and the pattern that led to the crisis, ended.
How did you gain a different perspective on life and your emotions while writing in your journal? Can you please share a story about what you mean?
When I first came to America, I cleaned houses to make money. While I was scrubbing a bathtub or vacuuming a bedroom, I would think about a school I’d like to start dedicated to helping people heal themselves and ultimately the planet. At night I’d note my ideas in my journal, sometimes in words and sometimes in drawings and mind maps. I had no money and didn’t even speak English, so there was little chance that my dream of a school would come true, but I wrote about it nonetheless.
Zoom ahead twenty years and now I’m the co-founder of Inner Treasure Hunt, the very school I envisioned. This reality has changed my perspective on the deepest level because I now acknowledge more strongly than ever that visions and dreams that are recorded have the power to change your life. What starts as an intangible thought can become manifest in the physical plane.
There is power in writing down dreams and visions because they become records you can return to which represent sign-posts in your life path. It is a mind-bending realization to see something I wrote decades ago become real in my life. I’ve experienced how writing down my dreams shaped the direction of my destiny, and I know this is true for others. Every time I re-read earlier journal entries, I gain new and fresh perspectives on who I am today.
In my own journal writing, I ended up creating poems from some of the ideas and one of them won an award. Do you have plans with your journal content?
My job is to create educational and meditative experiences that change people’s lives for the better, so I live in a state open to inspiration. When I review the drawings, ideas, plans, dreams, and visions in my journal, I’m able to make connections and intuit meanings in ways that aren’t always consciously accessible. My subconscious has a voice each time I record a dream or vision, and my journal gives me more ways to listen to this subconscious voice. In this way, my journal contributes to the inspiration I need in order to successfully create learning experiences for others.
Fantastic. Here is our main question. Can you please share with our readers “five ways that journaling can help you to be more calm, mindful and resilient”?
- Before you write, breathe. Mindfulness and calm begins within your body. Inhale through your nose and exhale by blowing out your mouth. Slow down your heart and relax your body. Stay still and listen for whatever comes up.
- Reserve time to write. Even if it’s only one or two minutes a day, get something on paper. Write about a dream you remember, or a goal you have, or a thought that keeps recurring, or an affirmation that resonates with you. Leave a record of yourself that you can return to. Consider journaling to be ‘me time’ and remember that you’re worth it.
- Create space for your inner life. Your inner life is the doorway to your own truth. Your inner life unfolds when you ask yourself questions about your own motivations, the source of your emotions, and why you make the decisions you do, then write your answers after deep introspection.
- Look for patterns. Re-read old entries to compare where you were with where you are, and to find patterns in your behavior that recur, for better or worse. Moving forward means breaking obsolete patterns and replacing them with beneficial ones. If your patterns or stories are holding you back, use your journal to change the script of your personal story and reinforce beneficial patterns.
- Write beyond words. Our left brain thinks in words but our right brain thinks in pictures and symbols. Words are pale substitutions for what’s possible to express. Always give yourself permission to draw! It doesn’t matter if you’re not an artist; let your pen direct you to more than just the written word. Symbols, shapes, colors, lines, spirals, mind maps — anything that helps you express yourself to yourself is fair game.
Watch Suteja discuss five things you can do to become more calm, mindful, and resilient by journaling here.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of peace to the greatest amount of people, what would that be?
We all benefit when we can tap into our emotions, get messages from our emotions, live in tune with our emotions, and not be trapped by our emotions. I would love to see programs in schools teaching children how to deal with their emotions. They could learn very simple techniques that even toddlers can do, like breathing with their abdomen, to become more calm and centered.
I can envision classrooms dedicating eight minutes a day to guided meditation focused on breathing, followed by two minutes of writing about feelings and experiences. So ten minutes total which could make a profound difference in children’s lives. And we don’t have to wait until children are old enough to write — even kindergarteners can learn how to use breathing techniques to calm themselves.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. :-)
The brilliant architect and researcher, Dr. Ibrahim Karim, author of “Back to a Future for Mankind,” is a great inspiration for me. He created Biogeometry, a new field of knowledge dedicated to balancing the activities of daily life, achieving harmony with our inner and outer environments, humanizing modern technology, and integrating science and spirituality.
Dr. Karim’s motto particularly speaks to me: “Only those who see the invisible can do the impossible.” He has dedicated his life to decoding the secrets of ancient Egypt and to rehabilitating the notion of energy or life force, measuring it and enhancing it at will. His understanding of the influence of the environment on individuals is unparalleled, and his work helps address issues of toxicity of earth lines, power lines, and other detrimental conditions.
Dr. Karim is a true visionary whose goal is to help humanity overcome crucial challenges in the fields of agriculture, technology, architecture, and health. I wish I could meet him to thank him and discuss his latest extraordinary discoveries and how they could change the course of human destiny.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Anyone can attend a free bi-monthly moon celebration where the lesson and meditation are followed by a live Q&A where students and members ask questions and I dive more deeply into topics. You can follow the ITH Blog, the ITH Linkedin page, and the ITH Facebook page to stay informed of programs and events, and join the ITH Facebook group to participate in conversations with me and other seekers. You can also join ITH as a member to gain access to members-only classes and Community Forum. And when it’s safe to meet in person again, I look forward to leading on-site seminars and retreats. Until then, I hope to see you on a screen sometime soon!
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued fulfillment and success with your writing!